Chapter 3: Professional Sales Training: Public Seminars Vs. Customized Private Engagements — What Are the Costs and Benefits of Each?
For private engagements, companies typically fly their salespeople into a centralized location, such as its corporate headquarters or a hotel with meeting facilities. Training materials are customized to the organization, and a facilitator or team of facilitators will deliver the training to the group. The entire learning experience is tailored to the company, its market and the challenges it faces.
For public seminars, companies send their salespeople to a meeting center booked by the training company—often in a major metropolitan area. The training materials are generic, the audience comes from many different industries, and the facilitator does his or her best to make the training relevant to each individual.
Customized private engagements deliver a much richer learning experience, and facilitate a lot of great networking and knowledge sharing among colleagues. However, these engagement require much more time and investment upfront to customize materials. Also, sales training companies typically charge daily rates for trainers up to a certain number of participants. So, unless a company has a large enough learning audience, this approach can be too expensive when you look at the cost per learner. However, if the learning audience is large, then the cost of customization and facilitation will get spread across more people and the costs will therefore become lower.
You can get great sales training at a public seminar, but the learning experience seldom measures up to what you would receive from a customized private engagement. The facilitator must be especially skilled at bringing the concepts to life for each individual in the group. However, it is not unusual for sales training companies to use public seminars as training grounds for new facilitators. Quality can be a hit or miss. Public seminars can be great for networking, but you can also bump into competitors, and that can make for some awkward situations. With a few exceptions, public seminars tend to be more about the event and less about gaining or reinforcing skills.
Before you book any program, speak with the sales training provider about the options available for you and your people. Determine exactly what the program covers. Ask about the facilitator and his or her industry and training experience. If they aren’t a great fit, then ask about other possibilities. You’re about to make a significant investment of time and money. Take your time and make sure you’re making the best choice.
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